Yesterday however, I had the privilege of memorializing a beautiful godly, gutsy, gusto-filled Italian woman named Lucia. Of all the things I do, honoring the life of a human being is the most meaningful to me. Gathering details and bio-bites and weaving together a story of a life well lived is like turning over the tapestry God wove and seeing all he used to color, enrich and imbue with meaning, that masterpiece of a life~
especially when she loved and served God.
Then, while there is sorrow, there is a living hope because loved ones know they will be reunited one day. And every service gives me the chance to ask the questions: What about my legacy? What will I leave behind? How will people characterize my life? What will my four children say? Will my life be a pleasing sacrifice to God?
It is a fortunate, most blessed human being who knows that when they die, they have left nothing on the table, knowing when they stand before their Lord, he will say, 'Well done, good and faithful servant.'1
I think that was Lucia, and I know that was Paul. We remind ourselves here that Paul was writing from the dank Roman prison cell where no one brought 'three squares a day' or a blanket to cover him at night. Prisoners were fed and taken care of by those from the outside or they rotted and died. And because Christians were under the torch of Rome, being used as scapegoats and even stadium sport, it could be very dangerous for those who came to tend them in prison. Yet Timothy came, and so did Epaphroditus. Good and faithful servants.
Look over my shoulder as Paul writes,
"But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy.
If the Lord Jesus is willing, I hope to send Timothy to you soon for a visit. Then he can cheer me up by telling me how you are getting along. I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare. All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ. But you know how Timothy has proved himself. Like a son with his father, he has served with me in preaching the Good News. I hope to send him to you just as soon as I find out what is going to happen to me here. And I have confidence from the Lord that I myself will come to see you soon.
Meanwhile, I thought I should send Epaphroditus back to you. He is a true brother, co-worker, and fellow soldier. And he was your messenger to help me in my need. I am sending him because he has been longing to see you, and he was very distressed that you heard he was ill. And he certainly was ill; in fact, he almost died. But God had mercy on him-and also on me, so that I would not have one sorrow after another.
So I am all the more anxious to send him back to you, for I know you will be glad to see him, and then I will not be so worried about you. Welcome him in the Lord's love and with great joy, and give him the honor that people like him deserve. For he risked his life for the work of Christ, and he was at the point of death while doing for me what you couldn't do from far away."2 Timothy and Epaphroditus sacrificed a lot to serve Paul.
Legacy is shaped by whether we choose to sacrifice and serve others well. Now obviously this was kind of some housekeeping business that Paul was doing between himself and the Philippians to whom he was writing, but it gives us some context. We just read these all important verses about humility and serving others, Jesus emptying himself even to the point of death-death on a cross-for us. So it gives us the framework on which Paul is pinning these thoughts. Paul is miserable physically, wondering if he will ever get out of prison, and yet being served by these two faithful men--understanding that the only way he will get word to the Philippians or about the Philippians is through a messenger. And so I say again: Legacy is shaped by whether we choose to sacrifice and serve others well.
Who are you serving? Do you have an attitude of humility, thinking of others first - before yourself, that is?3 Fact is, we all serve somebody, something, even if it is mostly ourselves. Guess I want my legacy to be filled with names, faces, lives I touched and served, and I definitely want to hear, 'Well done, good and faithful servant.' Servant. Look around and find someone, some place to serve today.
1 - Matthew 25.21
2 - Philippians 2.17-30, NLT
3 - Philippians 2.3-4